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Players left for the Edmonton Oilers to consider for Professional Tryout Contracts

Cam Lewis
8 months ago
It’s been a pretty quiet summer for the Edmonton Oilers.
The team traded away Kailer Yamamoto and Klim Kostin, re-signed Derek Ryan and Mattias Janmark, and added Connor Brown, Lade Pederson, and some other minor leaguers in free agency. Since then, the focus has been entirely on restricted free agents.
Ryan McLeod inked a two-year contract a couple of weeks ago and it appears as though Evan Bouchard should be signed in the coming weeks. Once the latter has agreed to a new deal, the Oilers will be pressed right up against the salary cap ceiling, so any other additions will have to come on dirt-cheap contracts.
Brandon Sutter is the first name added to the list of veterans the Oilers will bring to training camp on a professional tryout contract. Who else is out there for them to consider?

Sam Gagner

It’s an annual tradition each summer in Edmonton to suggest Sam Gagner come back for another tour of duty with the Oilers. Given Gagner is a Wasserman client, speculation about him signing with the Oilers has heated up since the Oilers announced Jeff Jackson as the organization’s new CEO.
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Gagner signed a one-year deal with the Winnipeg Jets last summer and appeared in his 1,000th NHL game with the club. He scored eight goals and 14 points with the Jets over 48 games and had his season cut short due to injury. The 34-year-old is coming off of hip surgery but said that he wants to continue playing.
“Yeah, that’s the intent,” Gagner said of getting the surgery with an eye to playing next season. “I mean, I actually want to keep playing and I understand that it’s going to take a lot of work to get back to where I was, but I think that being pain-free and having more mobility in my hips will be really helpful for me.”
There’s no doubt that Gagner is a beloved Oiler for his contributions on and off the ice but it’s difficult to say if he has anything left in the tank. That said, it’s certainly worth a shot in training camp to see if he does.

Jonathan Toews

Jonathan Toews has played his last game as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks but it’s uncertain if he’s played his last game in the NHL. Mark Spector noted when Toews wasn’t on the free agents list that his agency sent to teams ahead of July 1 but there’s been no official announcement about him retiring.
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Toews missed the entirety of the shortened 2021 season with what he called chronic immune response syndrome and stepped away from the Blackhawks in 2022-23 to focus on his health. He appeared in 53 games for the club and scored 15 goals and 31 points while winning 63.1 percent of the faceoffs that he took.
The Oilers brought in Duncan Keith from the Blackhawks a few years ago to add a veteran presence to their team and it wouldn’t be surprising if they had interest in Toews as well. The question is whether the three-time Stanley Cup winner wants to keep playing.

Eric Staal

After not playing in the NHL in 2021-22, Eric Staal returned on a one-year deal with the Florida Panthers and helped the team make a surprising run to the Stanley Cup Final. Staal scored 14 goals and 29 points over 72 games in the regular season and added five points in 21 playoff games.
It was the second deep playoff run that Staal had made in three years, as he also reached the Stanley Cup Final with the Montreal Canadiens in 2021. Between that run and last season, Staal captained Team Canada at the Olympics in Beijing in 2022.
Staal earned his contract last year with the Panthers following a professional tryout and it’ll likely be the same situation this fall for the 38-year-old. Given the way Staal played last year, he’d be a solid addition to the Oilers, but it’s hard to say if he still has legs after a deep playoff run.

Other remaining free agents…

  • Tyler Motte scored eight goals and 19 points between the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers last season. The 28-year-old plays both left and right wing and established himself as a quality defensive forward over five seasons with the Vancouver Canucks.
  • Danton Heinen put up 26 goals and 55 points over 141 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins over the past two seasons but wasn’t re-signed by the club. He plays both centre and left wing but hasn’t done well in the faceoff dot throughout his career.
  • Max Comtois wasn’t qualified by the Anaheim Ducks this summer and is still a free agent. He broke out with 16 goals and 33 points in the shortened 2021 season but followed that up with 16 and 19 points in 2021-22 and 2022-23 respectively.
  • Noah Gregor also wasn’t qualified by the San Jose Sharks this summer. He scored 23 points over 63 games for the Sharks in 2021-22 and 17 points in 57 games in 2022-23. Gregor also put up three points in seven games playing for Team Canada at the World Hockey Championships in the spring.

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